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Opinion

Newcastle fans need to remember that this is the most important thing

3 years ago
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The North East has seen the decline of manufacturing industry and the rise of the service Industry in the area over the years. Steelworkers, miners, shipbuilders going to watch the match at the weekend have been replaced with call centre staff, administrators and accountants – It seems the majority of Newcastle fans are an accountant when it comes to talking about Newcastle United these days.

This summer I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps off my phone and only used them when I deemed necessary – I can’t recommend it highly enough!

I’ve been afforded time off the daily barrage of non-stories a (mens) football tournament-less summer provides. I replaced the hours of refreshing news feeds with the occasional check of nufc.com and I found out about NUFC goings on as they happened – which funnily enough was around about the same time as everyone else did.

I think such is the rise of finances in everyday football conversations there should be a separate football accountancy press. To be honest, my grasp of balance sheets and the like is extremely limited and it’s certainly not something I’m going to pick up in my spare time as I have little interest in it, I’ll happily leave it to the experts.

Football finance is an industry on its own terms, it bears no logic and I’m not willing to spend time trying to suss it out, there are those out there much better positioned to do so, it certainly has no bearing on my thoughts on the approach to the match.

I still go to the match and follow NUFC for the same reason as I did as a kid, not because of a healthy balance sheet. Don’t get me wrong, do I want a financially sound NUFC that competes with its peers? Of course I do, I just don’t want to hear the ins and outs of every invoice.

My favourite part of going to the match has always been the clank of turnstile followed by walking up the steps to the view of the pitch.

Whether that be a 9 year old me walking up the never ending steps at the back of the Gallowgate End in 1992, mid-twenties me full of peeve stumbling up the steps of access 4 of the Strawberry Corner, to the one today that walks two steps behind my nephew when we get in to watch the flags and see the lads warm up.

It’s the part of the day my match day is all geared towards, you could talk all day about what the score is going to be, who’s in the starting line up, how much of the hot dogs sales are going in Mike Ashley’s pocket, but it all goes out of the window once in view of the pitch, it’s at that point when the belief that anything can happen kicks in.

It might be a somewhat romantic view but I can see a way for NUFC to win any game, I believe that any given day could be our day. I think if I lost that belief then I’d question why I was even going. I would take no satisfaction in predicting NUFC losing and it coming true. I’m sure there are Newcastle fans out there that are capable of betting against NUFC but that’s a conflict of interest I couldn’t handle.

Keegan said that the Club would go nowhere under Ashley and so far he’s somewhat been proven right, but he also said:

‘Don’t ever give up on your club, keep supporting it, it’s your club and trust me one day you will get your club back and it will be everything you wanted it to be, Newcastle United is bigger than anyone. It hurts I know, but just keep going, he is only one man, we are a city, a whole population. Trust me.’

This is where I find myself, much recognising that under the current ownership we’re going nowhere fast but not wanting to give up on the idea that the day NUFC achieve something significant is round the corner.

I myself try to deal with the here & now as it happens, with the occasional look back. But there are fans that seem to take some sort of pleasure out of all the hysteria and revel in the opportunity to say I told you so when things take a nosedive.

Players are written off before they’ve kicked a ball for NUFC because of their price tag. There are plenty of examples of players that have come in for nominal fees and did a great job for the Club.

Before I’m written off as an Ashley apologist, I’m far from it! I believe the guy is out for himself and not the best interests of the Club. As most are, I’m aware of the limitations beset on the Club during his ownership and I get it, but does every conversation regarding NUFC have to be about the owner and whether Rafa is leaving? Hopefully now that the season has started the conversations will become more about football.

The media don’t help things at all, I mean they still have us portrayed as 50k Kevin Keegans in the stands with delusions of grandeur, baying for us to be entertained, this skewed view which I believe exists or at least is being perpetuated, is one of the reasons for deleting the Twitter & Facebook apps.

Is there any other Club where the manager is asked whether he’s leaving, or whether he’s spoken to the owner, almost every interview? It’s tiresome.

I caught the ‘highlights’ of Ashley’s press release on Sky Sports.

It wasn’t an interview, an interview requires actual questions rather than verbal prompts. It seemed that he was trying to make out that Rafa is aware of our financial situation, that Rafa doesn’t expect an open cheque book and Rafa is fine with it. From my point of view it came across like, ‘whilst I’m here NUFC will never compete with the top 6’, ‘you (the fans) should be happy with what you’ve got’.

It’s easy to extract the absolute whoppers he’s telling in the Sky Sports piece like the £40m stadium naming rights – no one has that!

Rafa will never get £150m because he doesn’t have it? Just don’t mention the £200m Ashley put into a £900m housing development just two years ago, he’s got the money he just chooses not to direct it NUFC’s way and that is entirely his prerogative.

The guy is only out for himself, covering his back when he can, tempering expectations as often as he can to ensure he can push his agenda with relatively little resistance.

Luckily Ashley, or any owner for that matter, isn’t the reason I go to the match. Bottom line is I go to watch the lads on the pitch regardless of their transfer fees. We’ve had some right wasters on the pitch in recent years but we now seem to have a decent bunch of lads that I find easy to get behind and support.

There was something different about this latest piece of PR from Ashley, I get the feeling that he’s ready to sell NUFC and this was an attempt to lure potential investors, otherwise why would he plaster it on Sky Sports after a big game? If Ashley was speaking to the fans directly then why didn’t he use NUFC TV? Or as he is notoriously camera shy, why not an email to the subscribers?

Like the majority of us, I certainly haven’t got my head in the sand about the non-football issues surrounding NUFC, as much as you can try to avoid them it’s nigh on impossible to do so. I’ve had my season ticket longer than Ashley’s been here and I’ll be going to the game long after he’s left.

The match is pure escapism for me, as it should be for anyone clacking through the turnstile.

When you’re stood in the Gallowgate End or wherever you may sit/stand at St. James Park 10 minutes before kick-off, take a look around – it’s easy to forget who owns the Club, even if it is only for 90 minutes.

Howay me bonny lads!!!

You can follow the author on Twitter @lyon1892

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

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